Friday, August 12, 2011

Homeschool Heroes

We need heroes.
Our frail hearts need to know there is someone who has walked this path first.
We need the standard bearers who go before us and blaze the trail so that we have something to keep our eyes on when the road gets tough.
And the road always gets tough.
That's life.

Yes, it helps to have heroes.

I met Jessica Hulcy as a relatively green homeschooler.
For the first couple of years I would timidly approach her Konos booth and try to get a good look at the curriculum without letting Jessica get a good look at me. Frankly, the woman scared me. She was fanatical about discovery learning and insistent that everyone should do it.

But she didn't know me. She didn't know that I don't like messy things. I don't like projects. I don't like art. I don't like clutter. I really, really, really just wanted to hand my children nice clean workbooks and let them do nice clean schoolwork and put the workbooks away on my nice clean bookshelf when we were done.

No muss; no fuss.
And no learning, Jessica would say.
Crazy lady. Really.

But when child number three burst on the scene with his kinesthetic personality, I could see it would either be Konos...
or it would be war.
This child was not going to do workbooks well.
No, he was going to feel his schoolwork--literally.


So I met Jessica. I told her about myself.
And she told me, quite abruptly in fact, that I needed to change.


I bought Konos and did it for six wondrous years.
We sewed medieval banners...
(to the living room floor).
We made Queen cakes...
(with chunks of lemon rind floating in them).
We acted out Montezuma and Cortez
and the solar system
and made a map of the United States the size of our driveway
and went in search of metamorphic rock and algae.
We had an explorers' dinner and a pilgrims' feast
and a mountain man campfire complete with tall tales of our own making.
We studied Africa region by region.
We memorized military ranks and held bootcamp for a week.

And they learned, learned, learned.
Workbooks? What the heck was I thinking???!!!

Thank you, Jessica, for showing me that discovery learning is the best learning of all
and that the best thing Mom can just get out of the way. It's a lesson I have never forgotten.

A few years later, I met Dean and Karen Andreola.
Boisterous Dean. Proper Karen. Delightful people.
The Andreolas are responsible for reviving the work of English educator Charlotte Mason. And the crux of Charlotte Mason was that we need to get our learning from living books.
Again, put the workbooks away.
Bring out the real books. Do nature studies.
Discuss, discuss, discuss.

So we read good books. I am militant about twaddle-free bookshelves.
No Disney (well, okay, an occasional Disney until I can sneak it to the garbage); no Berenstain Bears; no babysitters clubs or goosebumps or Judy Blume.

And we narrate real books.
And we do copywork from real books.
And we draw backyard flora and fauna.
And we discuss, discuss, discuss.

My Charlotte Mason Companion is tattered and beloved.

Thank you, Dean and Karen, for bringing back the art of conversation. In so doing, you have increased the ability to keep discipleship in homeschooling.

When I picked up Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn from the airport for our summer conference, I was intimidated. These were classical people. Classical people are snobs.
I couldn't have been more mistaken. The Bluedorns are warm, wonderful people who are serious about home education and family but with a twinkle in their eyes. I wanted to adopt them!

Their Teaching the Trivium restored sanity to the classical craze. They kept the warmth of Charlotte Mason and her living books and added a dash of rigor and memorization. They taught me that I needed to focus on Biblical classics rather than pagan classics, especially at the younger stages. They taught me that, yes, it is possible to introduce the ancient languages to the children. And they taught me that, not only was it possible to teach logic, it was imperative for Christians.

Thank you, Harvey and Laurie, for showing the homeschooling world that a classical education does not have to be a pagan education. Most of all, thank you for showing me that moms and dads can tackle and teach the tough stuff.

David and Shirley Quine have come to Austin the past three summers. These are scary-smart people, and their focus is building a Biblical worldview in our children. But they are personable and humble and have all the time in the world for you.

I know; I spent two hours in their booth this summer.
I was intimidated. I felt inadequate to teach the material.
And they talked me down off my ledge.

David and Shirley's passion is to equip parents because parents are the best teachers. They don't shy away from heady stuff, and they don't pass it off to the 'experts' either. As far as discipleship of children go, parents ARE the experts.

Thank you, David and Shirley, for teaching me that I can wade into the worldview waters and that I can equip, that I can encourage, that I can walk alongside my children...because God gave my children to me. Thank you for showing me the difference between instruction and indoctrination. And thank you for being our cheerleaders!

Amazing people who blaze trails
Who confront the status quo
Who refuse to conform
Who accomplish genuinely good things for the genuine good of others.

Thank you, most of all, to the most amazing hero of all: my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ...
because there are still tough days in homeschooling when I am sure I have wasted my time or that the kids will never get it or that they will never get along. There are days when I daydream out the window and wonder what the non-homeschoolers are doing. There are days when I look down the road and realize the road is still very long.

It is on those days that I lean most heavily on my greatest hero.
Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming me from my depravity.
Thank you, Jesus, for being strong when I am weak.
Thank you, Jesus, for being the Author and Finisher of my faith.
Thank you, Jesus, for promising to bring what You started to completion.
Thank you, Jesus, for daily bearing my burdens.

Thank you, Jesus, for gently leading me with my young.

1 comment:

  1. Ok - now I REALLY want to know more!